The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III Review
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III Review
An enjoyable action-RPG packed with content and a well-balanced combat system.
Posted: 08/21/15 | Category: Review | Developer: Neocore Games | Publisher: Neocore Games | Platform: Windows, Mac

Genre: Action RPG
Release date: May 22, 2015

It is truly impressive that Neocore games was able to release all three games of Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing trilogy in three years. The subject of this review is the third and final installment; it brings a strong and epic ending to the steampunk-horror themed action-RPG series. Having said that, I must also warn newcomers to the series that the Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III (referred to as VH III from now on) has a very complex character and gameplay-management structure, rendering the warming-up process much longer than your average action RPG.

The Story

The story continues directly from the ending of the previous game. The civil war at Borgovia (a steampunk reimagination of a gothic fantasy universe) finally reaches its peak and, with the help of his spectral companion Lady Katrina, the bounty hunter, Van Helsing plans to put an end to it all. The story is a classic “good vs. evil” type of fantasy fiction. However, the pacing between the events and the dialogue are so well-done that the linearity and predictability of the story didn’t bother me at all. Also, being the final installment of the trilogy, the story and gameplay have a more “epic” feel compared to the previous games, providing a positive impact on the player's level of engagement. However, I'm not too sure if the game really deserves to have “III” in its title, as the look and the gameplay is very similar to the previous games; hence, it feels more like an expansion or a new episode rather than a brand new game.

Although the story is meant to be played as the charismatic bounty hunter Van Helsing, the game offers five additional character classes with different skills and tactics. Some of these are the standard classes we're all familiar with from RPG games, such as the tank warrior (The Protector) or the spell wielder (The Elementalist). However,  the game also throws in a couple of unconventional character classes for players who are bored with standard classes. The Phlogistoneer walks around in huge mechanical armor and utilizes Weird Science (the advanced technology of Borgovia) to build bombs and force fields. The Constructor plays like an engineer by setting up deadly traps and commanding robots in the battlefield. I had the most fun playing these two classes since they really offer more interesting combat moves and skill combinations relative to the other characters. Having said that, I didn't observe a huge difference in gameplay between different characters. Basically, each class has a combination of melee and missile attacks, and the fundamental winning strategy is to keep the horde of monsters away from you with missile attacks and finish them off with melee attacks when they come close. Hence, I wouldn’t say that playing all six classes offers a unique experience each time.

Gameplay

In terms of gameplay, VH III seems to combine all the existing ideas from past action-RPGs into a single convoluted gaming experience. The amount of customization and depth of skill branching is amazing. In addition to each class having a unique skill tree (with both active and passive skills) and set of auras, skills themselves are further customizable with optional add-ons. Moreover, Lady Katrina (your companion in combat) is also customizable to some degree. On top of that, you get to choose between different feats and stats to upgrade. I don’t remember any other RPG with this degree of skill/stat customization. 

Unfortunately, the amount of skill branching is both a plus and a minus for VH III. On the positive side, in-depth customization is always desirable in RPGs, as it gives the player an opportunity to create a character that's tailored towards his/her combat style. On the other hand, the game doesn’t offer enough guidance or explanation concerning the way the skill system works. There is a tutorial in the beginning, but it's almost trivial. Hence, you end up learning the process by trial-and-error, wandering through tens of tabs and menus in the overly-complicated GUI. This not only makes the initial warming-up phase of the game very frustrating, it also makes character-planning really difficult. It's very hard to predict which skills (and add-ons) are going to be useful in later stages of the game, so you might allocate your points very inefficiently and end up with a very weak character.

However, once you understand how the gameplay works and start planning out your skill advancement more logically, the game becomes a lot of fun. The combat, which is the greatest part of the game, is very fluid and addictive. You seamlessly pass between spells, melee and missile attacks while destroying a screen full of monsters. The game engine is very flexible; it lets you fight with sometimes 50-60 monsters on the screen, which forces you to make the most out of your mass destruction skills/traps and defensive auras. Finding the most efficient combat tactics is a lot of fun and you can simply spend hours in front of your computer going through different skills and spell combinations. By the way, if you finish VH III and find yourself still craving more combat, make sure to check out Deathtrap, a tower defense game by Neocore that was also reviewed on JA a couple of months ago.

Other than combat, VH III has the classic RPG elements like shopping for items and going on side-quests. The town in the game offers a couple of novel options that you don’t frequently see in action RPGs. In addition to the usual item-repairing and spell-shopping you can also oversee war tactics and send your companion beast to hunt for items. War-planning is very interesting. Similar to the spirit of Heroes of Might and Magic games, you choose to allocate your resources between different types of warriors and send them to battlefields/operations with different requirements. Based on the outcome of the battle, your troops gain experience and new skills. This mini-strategy game is a welcome break from hack’n’slash and adds a cool twist to character development, as you're not only a fighter now, you're also a commander in the battle.

Atmosphere

Audio in the game is satisfactory. The score is nothing special, but the voice-overs are extremely well done. I especially like Lady Katrina’s voice. The dialogue is also well-executed. I really like that the game doesn’t take itself too seriously and contains plenty of tongue-and-cheek humour.

Final Thoughts

Overall, VH III is an enjoyable action-RPG packed with content and a well-balanced combat system. It brings a satisfactory ending to the trilogy. However, if this is the first time you are playing a Van Helsing game, be aware that it'll take some time to get used to the character management system.

 
Grade: B+
 
Engaging and addictive combat
+ In-depth skill and character customization
 
Looks and feels more like an expansion
- Steep learning curve
 Logo
 
 
System Requirements
 
MINIMUM PC:
OS: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8
Processor: Dual Core CPU 2.0 GHz 
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia 8800 GT, Intel HD4000 or AMD HD3850
DirectX: Version 9.0c
Network: Broadband Internet connection
Hard Drive: 20 GB available space
Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
 
MINIMUM Mac:
OS: OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or later
Processor: Dual Core CPU 2.0 GHz 
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia 330M, Intel HD4000 or AMD HD 4670
Network: Broadband Internet connection
Hard Drive: 20 GB available space
Specials from Digital Download
Leave A Comment
All Comments
JustAdventure
Rick Francis
Dont get me wrong, this is a good game and was a lot of fun. but it just got boring after the first game. the rinse and repeat scenarios the devs put you in got old and tiring after a while. I played this game all the way through with two other friend Coop. and we had fun, we have another campaign going now on part 2. But as I said, its just starting wear on you. The same setting over and over just gets tiring. The devs really should have gotten more creating and not locked you do to Borgovia as the main setting.
Posted Date : 08/21/2015
Screen Shots
Related Articles
More...
Popular Articles
More...
1997 - 2018 Just Adventure, LLC. All Rights Reserved
Web Analytics